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September 13, 2021 7 min read

Ahh the good ole' bench press. Anyone who has hit the gym, knows that this workout is the gold standard amongst those looking to build a strong chest and defined pecs. There's beauty in the simplicity of this workout which is done one a bench and with a barbell by lowering the barbell and weights to your chest and pushing them back up in repetition. Of course, they can also be be done solo or with a spotter. Of course, it isn't just the chest which gets worked by this old school workout but several other muscles as well.

What Muscles Can The Bench Press Work On?

The bench press is an effective compound exercise that targets some of the bigger muscles in your upper body, which are your chest, shoulders, and triceps. It may not promote general muscular development as the squat or deadlift, but it is well-known for activating the muscles that enhance our upper-body strength and aesthetics.

 fitness model in gym close up


The bench press is the most common lift for most individuals when it comes to developing a larger chest. It's a full-body chest workout that works your lower, middle, and upper chest. According to  muscle-activation studies, the bench press activates the upper chest just as effectively as the incline bench press. As a result, the bench press is an excellent primary lift for building your whole chest.

The bench press is also an excellent shoulder raise. The fronts of your shoulders or front delts can help you push weight up to your chest. As a result, while benching at lower rep ranges, your front delts may take control, getting somewhat more stimulation than your chest. This is why bench pressing for 1–6 repetitions is typically beneficial to your shoulders while benching for 8+ reps tends to tax your chest more.

It's also worth noting that dumbbell and barbell bench presses may work on both sides of your shoulders. However, since they are not the limiting factor, they will not experience significant development.

Advantages of Bench Pressing

Bench presses can help you towards toning your upper body muscles like the pecs, arms, and shoulders. Various types of bench presses train slightly different muscles depending on your objectives. A tighter grip bench press, for particular, trains the triceps and forearms as well.

There are also advantages to using bench presses in your weight-training routine. You can increase your upper body strength, improve your muscular endurance, and it can even serve as a preparatory for exercises like push-ups. The bench press is also used to build strong and reliable muscles for sports.

Safety and Precautions

If you get shoulder discomfort while doing the bench press, change the weights and stop the activity, or if you have a shoulder issue, avoid doing the bench press.

Working with heavyweights requires extreme caution. For example, staying beneath a bar loaded with heavy plates during a barbell bench press. You may severely hurt yourself if it slides or falls.

Use bench press large weights with the aid of a  spotter.

The best method to prevent injury is to practice with someone who can spot you while you do bench presses.

The second best option is to set up the bench such that you can securely slip out from beneath the bar even if you can't pull it up. Double-check towards the fasteners and if the weights are securely fastened on both ends.

Also, always, always warm-up before exercising and avoid overworking your muscles. The importance of rest is comparable to that of activity.

Needless to say, you may also concentrate on each of the regions separately. The bench press can grow larger shoulders as well as getting bigger arms. And, you know, you can always simply focus on getting huge biceps.

How to Bench Press Like a Pro

If you don't have a dedicated bench press rack, a regular flat bench with dumbbells or a light barbell will do. Decide on the proper weights.

Beginners and heavy lifters should seek the help of a "spotter," who stands behind the rack and assists with the bar when you are having difficulty lifting.

  1. Lie on the bench underneath the rack while gripping the bar. Your eyes should be about aligned with the front of the uprights of the barbell rack. Your buttocks, shoulders, and head should rest flat on the bench, with a small, neutral bend in your spine.
  2. To avoid pushing with rounded shoulders, arch your back and pull your shoulder blades back behind you. Your feet should be reasonably close together and flat on the floor.
  3. Using an overhand grip, hold the bar with your thumbs on the outside of a clenched fist and your arms a little more than shoulder-width apart. Upper arms should be at a 45-degree angle to your body.
  4. Take the barbell from the rack and lower it to your nipple line while keeping your elbows locked out. Avoid sliding the bar from the rack to the chest position in an arc. 
  5. Take a deep breath and lift the bar over your chest with your arms outstretched, exhaling while pushing upward and aiming for the same place on the ceiling every time. Don't look at the bar; instead, look at the ceiling.
  6. Repeat the exercise by lowering the bar to just above your chest. A decent beginning point is three sets of 10 repetitions.
  7. Next, from the locked-out position, put the bar on the rack. Lower the bar to the rack rest by gently moving it backward until you feel the rack uprights.

Do not attempt to strike the rack rests directly. If you miss, you risk losing control, which is hazardous.

Effects of Bench Press On Your Muscles

Each bench press variation focuses on a different group of muscles.

Among the variations are:

  • Bench press in the traditional sense. Laying down on a flat bench, this exercise is done by pushing a barbell at chest height up and down. It works out the pecs, shoulders, and arms.
  • Bench press on an incline. The front of the bench is inclined between 45 and 60 degrees for this variant, allowing you to lean back somewhat. It focuses on the muscles of the upper chest and shoulders.
  • Bench press should be reduced. The front of the bench is tilted upward in this version so that when you lay down, your feet are higher than your head. It engages the lower chest and shoulder muscles.
  • Bench press with a narrow grip. During this variation, your hands are closer together on the barbell. It helps to strengthen the triceps and forearms.
  • All of these variations do not have to be done at the same time. However, overuse of a muscle group may result in injury. This is particularly true while dealing with large weights.
  • You may choose two versions of each exercise if you want diversity. Allow your muscles to recuperate by taking a day off before moving between the other versions.
  • Including bench presses in your workout regimen. If you want to include bench presses into your weightlifting program, aim to do so just two to three times each week. Allow your muscles at least one day to recover between bench lifts.

The amount of repetitions you do each session is determined by your fitness objectives. If you are utilizing extremely heavyweight, 3 to 5 repetitions at a time may be plenty.

You may go up to three sets, resting a few minutes between each.

  • If you want to improve your cardiovascular fitness, you may do a more significant number of repetitions — 5 to 10 — with less weight.
  • Bent-over rows, chin-ups, and diamond push-ups are some more workouts to try on chest and back days.
  • Another day, focus on legs and shoulders with squats, lunges, and overhead presses for a full-body workout. Cardiovascular activities such as jogging, swimming, or cycling should also be included in your weekly regimen.
  • It is important to follow a varied regimen to ensure that you are exercising your whole body. This weekly plan also provides for rest days to allow your muscles to recover.
  • Full-body routines may also be more successful than spot training, which involves repeatedly doing the same exercise to attempt to build up a specific muscle. Remember that your body rapidly adapts to exercise, so mix up your exercises to keep your body challenged.

How Many Reps Should You Do?

Your objectives determine the number of repetitions you perform on the bench press. If you want to improve your 1-rep max, you should bench in a lower rep range, while if you want to develop a larger chest, you should bench in a moderate rep range.

  • Benching for 3–5 repetitions is excellent for increasing your 1-rep max, but it isn't optimal for promoting muscular development. Also, bear in mind that bulking up your muscles will make you stronger in the long run.
  • Benching for 6–10 repetitions is excellent for developing muscular growth and strength and is an appropriate starting point for most individuals.
  • Benching for 11–15 repetitions is great for muscle growth, but it's more difficult to translate into a 1-rep or even 5-rep max.

Common Mistakes

Bench pressing is a risky exercise, so make an effort to prevent these mistakes:

  • Low Stakes: When unracking or racking the bar, ensure sure the route is not low over the mouth and neck region. That is, you should transfer the weight "from" and "to" the rack with your arms outstretched, rather than low over your neck and face.
  • Grip Width: Generally, your grasp on the bar should be broad enough that your elbow joints are at right angles and your forearms are perpendicular to the plane. You risk hurting your pectoral muscles if your grasp is too broad and your elbows are excessively stretched out. 
  • Elbows Locking Suddenly: Contrary to some potentially incorrect safety recommendations, you may "lock out" your elbows. Just make sure you don't shut them out abruptly or violently.
  • Position of the Thumb: With your thumbs beneath the bar and over the top of your fingers, take an overhand grip. Don't put your thumbs behind the bar or under your fingers.
  • Stability: This is achieved by pressing the head against the bench. For stability, keep your head level on the bench and your feet flat on the floor, but don't push your head into the bench to assist in the lift; instead, tense your neck muscles. Your back should be arched and your buttocks lifted, but your buttocks should stay flat on the bench. Avoid arching your back so far that your buttocks rise off the bench like a powerlifter. This may cause low back discomfort.

Final Thoughts

The bench press is a complex exercise that will help you gain muscle mass in your chest, shoulders, and triceps. If you're new to bench pressing, ask someone to be your spotter. They may observe your form and ensure you're lifting the appropriate weight for your fitness level. But if you really want to take your benching to the next level and need some increases energy and strength we suggest loading up on some of our  RIPPED STACK supplements to help you achieve your muscle growth goals.